How To Remove Mold From A Popcorn Ceiling

Mold on a popcorn ceiling can be more difficult to detect due to the ceiling’s texture. The bumpy surface makes it easy for mold spores to settle and begin to grow, and can also hide the growth until it’s already well established. Immediate removal is best, but how do you kill mold on a popcorn ceiling?

In this explanatory guide, you’ll learn how mold forms on popcorn ceilings, how to remove it, and how you can prevent future recurrences of mold. Make sure you keep reading, especially if you’ve had mold issues in the past.

black mold on popcorn ceiling

Can Popcorn Ceilings Get Mold?

Ceilings, walls, and floors of a building of any texture can develop mold.

Mold isn’t particularly picky about where it grows. From wood to ceiling tiles, cardboard, paper, drywall, upholstery, fabric, carpet, insulation, wallpaper, and painted materials, mold will grow on it all.

What matters the most is creating the optimal conditions for mold. The fungi thrive in warm, humid environments with sources of nutrients, as long as they have these circumstances, they will grow very efficiently.

What Does Mold Look Like on a Popcorn Ceiling?

Should you have mold on a popcorn ceiling, it will admittedly be harder to detect it compared to mold on a flatter ceiling, as we touched on in the intro.

That said, it’s not impossible to spot it.

Mold can grow in an assortment of colors, such as white, red, yellow, pink, orange, purple, brown, and of course, common hues such as green, gray, or black. 

The mold might appear only as flecks to start that will become larger patches if left untreated. An easy way to tell apart mold growth from dirt buildup on a ceiling is that mold tends to grow in circular “splotches”.

Why Is There Mold on My Popcorn Ceiling?

You might have never had a mold problem before, yet suddenly, mold has spread across your popcorn ceiling. Why is that?

Popcorn ceilings are actually likelier to attract mold compared to other ceiling types. The popcorn texture allows the ceiling to trap more humidity than an untextured ceiling.

You’ll recall from earlier that humidity is part of the favorable conditions that allow mold to spread.

Thus, if the popcorn ceiling is installed in any room in the house which have higher levels of humidity in comparison to the rest of the property, a mold problem can spread very quickly.

The air in the room can spread the spores from area to area, worsening the mold problem as well.

How to Remove Mold from a Popcorn Ceiling

Considering that a mold problem will become more severe with time, the moment you spot popcorn mold on your ceiling, you should begin to combat it.

Per the intro, here are the methods you can follow to do that.

Water and Baking Soda Mold Removal

Baking soda is a suitable mold killer, and it can remove mold stains as well. Do keep in mind that baking soda works best on nonporous surfaces, and popcorn ceilings are quite porous.

So, you might have to apply the baking soda treatment several times to see results.

Combine two cups of water with a teaspoon of baking soda in a spray bottle. Shake the ingredients until the baking soda is well distributed.

Next, spray the baking soda mixture onto the moldy popcorn ceilings, and leave the solution to work for ten to fifteen minutes.

Dip a sponge into pure water, wipe away the baking soda residue, and allow to air dry.

Hydrogen Peroxide Mold Removal

Another household product for busting mold on your popcorn ceilings is hydrogen peroxide. For the best results, the concentration should be at least three percent hydrogen peroxide.

In a spray bottle, combine equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. A 1:1 ratio suffices for removing mold.

Spray the contents onto the mold-ridden popcorn ceiling. Give the ingredients several minutes to work before wiping away the contents with a sponge or cloth.

Use another clean sponge with water to clear any hydrogen peroxide residue.

Distilled White Vinegar Mold Removal

One of the top methods for removing mold on household surfaces is to use distilled white vinegar.

A powerful cleaner, you can transfer distilled white vinegar straight into a spray bottle without diluting it with water.

Allow the white vinegar to work for upwards of 60 minutes and then clean it away with a wet sponge. 

Asbestos and Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings have been in vogue since the 2000s, but long before even then, they weren’t the safest home addition.

Before the 1970s, popcorn ceilings often had asbestos fibers. Then the United States passed the Clean Air Act, which effectively barred all future use of asbestos.

That said, some popcorn ceilings installed as late as the 1980s may contain asbestos due to the companies that installed the ceilings having a supply of asbestos that they wanted to use.

As a result of this, before attempting to remove mold from your popcorn ceiling tiles, it may be worthwhile to have them checked for asbestos content before attempting to clean them yourself.

Should You Use Bleach on a Popcorn Ceiling to Kill Mold?

When you have a big mess around the house, it’s common to reach for the jug of bleach.

However, bleach is a much heavier-duty cleaner than the others we discussed in the section prior to this.

Bleach can stain clothes, so please wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained when cleaning with bleach.

You should also lay down tarps and remove items near the mold-infested parts of the popcorn ceiling so none get bleach-stained.

Wear long sleeves and pants as well as rubber gloves and goggles. You don’t want bleach getting on your skin or into your eyes!

You must also properly ventilate the bathroom, bedroom, or whichever room in your home has moldy popcorn ceilings.

Leave the door open, turn on a ceiling fan, and open all the windows.

To use bleach to clean mold from popcorn ceilings, use the following steps:

  1. Combine five parts of water with one part of bleach in a spray bottle
  2. Spray directly onto the affected area of the tile
  3. Leave the solution to work for 3-5 minutes
  4. Use a damp, clean cloth to remove any bleach residue

Can You Just Paint Over Mold on a Popcorn Ceiling?

What if, instead of treating the mold issue, you just paint over it instead?

This only “solves” the mold issue the way that putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm does. It gives the illusion of helping but truly doesn’t.

Painting over mold will cover it, but only in that area. You’ll recall from earlier that the air can easily carry mold spores on a popcorn ceiling throughout the room. Failing to remedy the conditions that caused mold will also encourage its spread.

All this is to say that the mold problem will continue to worsen. When it does, then the areas you painted over will be the only parts of your popcorn ceiling that are mold-free.

Instead of painting over the mold, treat it firsthand. That’s the only way to remove mold from a popcorn ceiling.

Are There Health Issues from Mold on Popcorn Ceilings?

Mold isn’t only unattractive on popcorn ceilings and other surfaces but potentially detrimental to your health as well.

If the spores are plentiful enough, you could develop symptoms such as fatigue, headache, breathing troubles, wheezing, coughing, itchiness, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.

Even if you didn’t have a mold allergy before, repeated exposure to the mold could cause one, and your reactions would thus be more severe.

Those with existing mold allergies who are exposed to mold on popcorn ceilings as well as those with asthma will have breathing difficulties and other serious symptoms.

It’s in your best interest to treat mold upon spotting it.

How to Prevent Mold on Bathroom Popcorn Ceilings

Bathrooms are one of the rooms of a property that has the highest humidity levels, They also have plenty of nutrients, (namely from dead skin cells removed during bathing). Luckily, rather than having to repeat the processes for cleaning mold each time the problem reappears, there are measures you can take to prevent it from coming back. Here are some tips to do just that.

Refinish with Mold-Resistant Paint

Mold-resistant paint might be able to ward off mold’s progress so the spores can’t spread as easily.

That said, mold-resistant paint does not prevent mold from forming, so it’s only a viable means of protection if you’ve already tried the other suggestions in this section. 

Keep the humidity down

Mold begins to grow more efficiently when humidity reaches 55%. You can keep the humidity of your home lower, by using a dehumidifier, making use of air conditioning, bathing for shorter periods of time, and drying laundry outside (if possible). To keep a check on the overall humidity levels within the rooms on your property, you can place a few hygrometers in different rooms. As soon as they show an air moisture level greater than 55%, you need to start opening windows, and doors and increasing airflow to drive out the moisture-laden air.

Ventilate the Room

Without proper ventilation, it’s only a matter of time before the mold that you painstakingly removed from your popcorn ceilings grows back.

Whether you need to add return vents or another ventilation system, the humid air in the room will have a place to go, which takes away one of the main elements mold requires to thrive.

Even making sure that windows and internal doors are open (when possible), is an easy and effective way to make sure there is a steady and constant flow of fresh, clean air traveling through each room of the house. This flow disrupts mold spores and does not allow them to settle on surfaces where they can begin to multiply.

Consider Removing the Popcorn Ceiling

Even with these mold prevention methods, mold is always going to be likelier to form on popcorn ceilings than on other types of surfaces.

Considering the aforementioned potential asbestos risk as well, it could very much be worth your while to remove your popcorn ceiling and replace it with a flatter-textured ceiling instead.


Popcorn ceilings are a common source of mold, as humidity can get trapped between the textured areas. Removing mold from popcorn ceilings will make the room more inhabitable, but you should seriously consider getting a new type of ceiling to really prevent mold.

Chris Walker

Chris Walker has struggled for several years with mold after buying his own property. After finding the solutions to several issues around his home, he decided to create this site in order to answer as many questions about mold and mildew as possible to help others dealing with the same problems.

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